- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Strong winds buffeted many areas of Southern California on Friday, fanning a small brush fire, toppling trees and knocking out power to thousands.

The fire was reported at 7:12 a.m. in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Fire Department said it was being held at about 8 acres in size.

A 61 mph gust was recorded in the Saugus area of Santa Clarita just before 7 a.m., the National Weather Service said.

In a neighborhood near Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon, a small house was left surrounded by fallen trees and a broken power pole leaned precariously over the street. Among other damage, a toppled tree crushed several cars in West Hollywood.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said heavy winds caused 290 power outages that affected a total of about 23,000 customers.

Outages were scattered over a wide area ranging from the coastal Pacific Palisades to the Los Angeles basin and the San Fernando Valley. The utility said crews were working in dangerous wind conditions to restore power as quickly as possible.

High wind warnings and wind advisories were in effect for large swaths of the region including the Indio desert area, where thousands of people were expected to attend the three-day first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

The National Weather Service said the northerly winds were being created by low pressure dropping through the Great Basin.

Gale warnings were posted along the coast and high surf advisories were issued for west- and northwest-facing beaches from the Central Coast to Los Angeles County as a large northwest swell combined with large wind-generated waves.

The winds were forecast to become northeasterly Santa Anas as an upper level ridge builds into the West Coast and surface high pressure moves into Nevada during the weekend.

The offshore flow will bring warming, with temperatures well above normal until a cooling trend in the middle of next week, forecasters said.

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